The New B2B Public Relations Are A Hybrid Of Traditional And Social

As social networks continue to explode, there’s been a lot of clamor about the death of traditional marketing techniques. A case in point is a recent Harvard Business Review piece titled, "Marketing is Dead."

The fact is that these death mongers have it backwards. You can’t have a thriving social network without a wide array of tried and true marketing methods--after all, social media mavens aren’t usually “friends” of corporate marketers.

I believe that service and product marketing will always be a necessary component of the suite of B2B marketing methods used by organizations to promote a brand. Think about it for a minute. How do you get prospects interested in what you are doing? You need some type of demo or sales sheet (all traditional marketing tools) that shows what you are offering. And let’s not forget about the old-fashioned phone call.

In the B2B interaction space of today, you can say that things have become a bit more streamlined. Public relations departments of enterprise-level (and smaller, in fact) businesses reach out to prominent social media influencers with their products; the latter then assess them and decide which ones to circulate favorably among their social networks.

PR people of course have always reached out to influencers to try to get them to endorse a product or service. The difference is that today it’s done via social media and social networks while before it might have been a phone call and print material. In addition influencers can spread a wider net of engagement with your prospects thanks to social networks.

But you will still find much success through using these 5 traditional B2B PR/marketing methods:

1.Content marketing has always been a staple of advertising, especially in this age of search marketing. With the recent changes to search engine algorithms, it’s gained even more importance. Because tech giants like Google do massive research before making such changes, you can rest assured that they recognize the importance of engaging content to the consumer. Content that educates and engages is elevated above content that merely promotes, making the former a more valuable method of B2B and interaction.
2.Content marketing is kind of like the fuel, and social media the engine. One of the most popular and straightforward models of this kind of interaction is product reviews: PR people approach social media influencers with copies of their latest product/service and leave it up to them to assess how good the product is. The initial budget for this is much smaller than widespread marketing, but it is no less essential.
3.Prospects love free stuff, especially if it’s informative and useful. You can employ company social networks, or public ones such as Facebook, to offer free webinars of other speaking engagements, in which you offer something of value, such as how to use popular software. This can not only draw more visitors to your network, but also serves to close ranks with the ones you already have. Indeed, few things engage more than a webinar.
4.Physical conferences, such as trade shows, often attract people with large social networks. With the growing use of tech gadgets like QR codes, they can drop by your company booth and scan the code with their Smartphones to learn all about it. Taking a picture of a well-made booth and sending it via cellular to Facebook, or tweeting about the experience, is yet another important means of social interaction being driven by traditional marketing.
5.Video marketing is gaining steam, and is a preferred method of marketing in many circles already. True, this is not quite traditional marketing but it is an expansion of the old school demo. If your B2B PR efforts embrace this receptive medium, you can take advantage of a video that goes viral, reaching more people in a short span of time than all other forms of marketing combined. As always, though, it takes traditional marketing methods to pitch your video to influencers initially, who may then push it through their abundant social networks.

So what do you think? How are you combining traditional and social marketing?

Follow me on Twitter @wendymarx

[Image: Flickr user D. Sharon Pruitt]

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8 Comments

  • Jim Quinlivan

    Wendy, you piece reminded me of what Audre Lorde said: "There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt."

  • George Rafeedie

    Wow - great article and mirrors what we've been doing at Tell Your Story Brand Communications. We call it Social PR. We coined it. 

  • Robyn

    This is perfectly on point; new ways of connecting can be valuable but don't cancel out everything that's tried and true!

  • Carrie Reber

    I couldn't have said it better myself!  You've beautifully articulated the same philosophy I share. Thanks!

  • Bill McLaughlin

    Thanks Wendy.  Some great points on the value of combining he old and the new